"Stick a pony in me pocket, I'll fetch the suitcase from the van. 'Cause if you want the best 'uns, and you don't ask questions then, Brother, I'm your man!"
British Sitcom running from 1981-1991, with a series of Christmas specials afterward. The series followed the adventures of the Trotter family, who aimed to try and get out of their council flat in Nelson Mandela House, a tower block in Peckham, London. They drove a yellow "Robin Reliant" (actually a Reliant Supervan III).These schemes frequently involved selling useless goods that had "fallen off the back of a lorry" (a British euphemism for "stolen").The family was made up of:
Del Boy (Derek Edward Trotter): A Loveable Rogue who always came up with daft schemes to try and make money. Famous for awful attempts at French (namely confusing "Bonjour" and "Au revoir"). Pretty much Sir David Jason's defining role, to the point that "Arise Sir Del Boy" was the joke made by several newspapers when his knighthood was announced.
Rodney Charlton Trotter: Brother of Del Boy, he was the smarter of the two. He would generally spot the flaw in his brother's plans, but be unable to get Del to listen until it was too late. Began as an idealistic Soap Box Sadie counterpoint to the older, more cynical and picaresqueish Del, and later became, of all things, a Deadpan Snarker. Nicholas Lyndhurst's most famous role, although he has done other things.
Grandad (Edward Kitchener "Ted" Trotter): Appeared in the early series until Lennard Pearce died. This carried over into the series, with the Trotters attending Grandad's funeral in "Strained Relations".
Uncle Albert (Albert Gladstone Trotter): Actually Great-Uncle Albert, he had a penchant for reminscing about life During The War. (Uncle Albert was a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for for his big brother Grandad.) Buster Merryfield died in 1999, his death also being written into the show.
Rachel "Raquel" Turner: First appeared in the 1988 Christmas special "Dates" as Del's girlfriend. She then left for the Middle East and wasn't seen until a year later in the 1989 Christmas special "The Jolly Boys Outing". From "Rodney Come Home" onward, Raquel has been living with Del and Albert, serving as the Team Mom.
Cassandra Louise Parry: An Uptown Girl who Rodney first met at evening school (and then later married) in the sixth season. The two then had a daughter, Joan, whom Rodney named after his and Del's late mother.
Damien Trotter: Del and Raquel's son, who Rodney suspects of being the Antichrist (his name was a sarcastic suggestion by Rodney that Del didn't pick up the significance of). A Mouthy Kid.
Marlene: Boycie's wife. Originally The Ghost, only referred to in the pub ("all the boys remember Marlene"), she started appearing in the fourth season from "Sleeping Dogs Lie" onward.
Denzil Tulser: The Everyman, relied upon to get caught up in Del's schemes because he's just too nice a guy not to help. Originally a Jive Turkey, but this got toned down quite quickly.
Mike Fisher: The landlord of the Trotter's favourite pub, The Nag's Head, and also a pretty sensible guy.
Mickey Pearce: Rodney's best friend, who first appeared in the third season.
DCI Roy Slater: "Slater the Slag", a Dirty Cop determined to arrest Del for something. He was at school with Del, Trig, Denzil and Boycie, and no-one liked him then either. He was eventually arrested himself for diamond smuggling. In "The Class of '62", it is revealed that Slater was Raquel's husband.
In 1996, the series ended when the brothers discovered a rare watch which was auctioned for £6 million pounds. After a five-year hiatus, it returned.It seemed like they'd finally become wealthy, but by 2001, a dodgy investment led to them losing everything. Over the course of three Christmas specials, they tried to earn enough to pay the Inland Revenue before Uncle Albert's will came through with enough money to pay the taxes and a bit extra.Famous moments:
Trope namer for During The War.The show remains the BBC's choice of things to stick on at times when they haven't got a chance of winning the timeslot, or if there's the potential that the football will overrun (meaning that the show won't get aired if the football goes into extra time). Re-runs turn up all the time on the digital channels, especially G.O.L.D. (formerly UKTV Gold) which is almost guaranteed to show at least one episode on any given day.Won Britain's Best Sitcom, edging out Blackadder.
This series contains examples of:
The Ace: Freddie "The Frog" Robdal. A debonair, gentleman thief who was a charming, generous and very clever man, who had a fondness and talent for art, was a hit with the ladies, and whose last job was the sucessful theft of half a million pounds worth of gold bullion, which he hid by burying it at sea under one of his pseudonyms (which he planned to retrieve using his skills as a diver). The image is slightly ruined by the fact that he died by sitting on a detonator during a later job.
Acronym and Abbreviation Overload At one point, Del Boy insists that "Modern businesspeople only speak in initials!" He initializes everything — examples include the GLC: "General 'Lectric Company" and PMA: "Positive Mental Attitude". He also tries to initialize "Trotter's Independent Trader's" and Rodney's "Diploma In Computerization", the results of which are duly pointed out.
Actor Allusion: In a Comic Relief episode Rodney says how stupid the idea of walking through a portal to the 1940's would be after Uncle Albert starts talking about the war followed by Raquel saying she's going to bed only for Del to reply "Goodnight Sweetheart." followed by a shocked look from Rodney. Del goes on to say that he is not a chief inspector.
This was also done the other way around—in Goodnight Sweetheart Gary (played by Nicholas Lyndhurst) is about to lean back and fall through an open bar door like Del Boy famously did, but notices in time and gives an Aside Glance wink to the audience—accompanied by uproarious laughter that must seem inexplicable and random to anyone unfamiliar with the Only Fools scene in question.
The Alleged Car: The famous Reliant Regal. Also the Ford Capri driven by Del in later seasons, known to Rodney as "the Pratmobile". The vast majority of cars that Boycie sells also qualify.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the 1989 Christmas Special "The Jolly Boys' Outing", after the Jolly Boys are stranded in Margate following the destruction of their coach, Boycie complains that he might miss the christening of his son, Mike and Sid complain that they have to run their pub and cafe respectively, Jevon complains that he's going to miss out on a date he had arranged for that night... and then Trigger chimes in and complains that his inflatable dolphin got blown up with their coach.
Also while on holiday in Spain, Del and Rodney get a call from Grandad that he has been arrested. They visit him in his cell and he tells them that during the Spanish Civil War he was a mercenary who used to smuggle guns for both sides (or in his words 'the ones that paid us the most'). He believes that they are going to put him on trial for these past crimes so Del bribes the guard to turn a blind eye and let them walk out. After taking Del's money, the guard tells Del that the charges have been dropped and Grandad is free to go. Flabbergasted, Del points out Grandad's past to which the guard replies that Grandad was actually arrested for... jaywalking.
Ashes to Crashes: Del and Rodney are trying to dispose of Trigger's grandfather's ashes in "Ashes to Ashes". The ashes end up being sucked up by a streetsweeper.
Batman Gambit: Del defeats Slater the first time by exploiting the latter's desire to have Del under his thumb for all time - he gets himself immunity from prosecution if he reveals who stole a microwave. It was him.
Butt Monkey: Denzil, who is a perpetual victim of Del's schemes. As with every other Running Gag on the show, this is lampshaded no end, with Rodney frequently sympathising with his plight and Denzil himself trying hard to stop it happening. Trigger is arguably a subversion of the trope, because he's a victim of Del just as often but doesn't appear to realise he's being messed about, happily (though unwittingly) acting to his own detriment in the interests of "helping out a friend". Moreover, Trigger's sporadic attempts at trading usually result in Del somehow getting screwed over, so they're probably pretty even on that count.
Rodney, since Del both uses and teases him quite a lot.
Slater in the first chapter of Rock And Chips was one, being eternally victimised by Del and all his friends, hence giving him a good reason to join the police force after leaving school.
Canon Discontinuity: The show's writer, John Sullivan usually liked to pretend that the 1986 Christmas Special, "A Royal Flush" never happened, due to Del being absolutely cruel to Rodney by ruining his chances with the daughter of an aristocrat. Sullivan only allowed the episode to be released on video and DVD due to demand from the fans, and even then it was in the form of a severely edited version in which Del is a lot less mean.
Character Outlives Actor: After his actor died, Mike was written out as has having been jailed abroad for embezzlement in "If They Could See Us Now". This was done at the request of Kenneth MacDonald who did not want his character to die with him. Corine, Denzil's wife, also Character Outlives Actor, with the character being considered to divorce Denzil after she died following a single appearance. The character was intended to have been recurring. Interestingly, she wasn't stated to have finally left him until quite a way into the series, despite no possibility of a reappearance after the third series.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Jevon, who was Mickey Pearce's trading partner in the sixth season, vanished without a trace after "The Jolly Boys' Outing". Unlike most of the other semi-regular characters that left the series, he was never mentioned again after his disappearance.
Closer to Earth: Rodney, Mike, Denzil, Raquel, and Cassandra are the only sensible characters in the series.
Del and Roddney's mother Joan can also be considered this in Rock And Chips.
Completely Missing the Point: In "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Uncle", Uncle Albert laments that his place of birth (a marina where ships from all over the world used to dock) which, when he was young, was filled with rough but good people has since been utterly cleared away so as to build luxury flats, Del states that is in fact terrific as the flats happen to be worth a lot of money.
Del also never quite seems to catch on to the fact that "Yuppie" is an insult.
Cordon Bleugh Chef: Grandad, whose habit of utterly carbonizing anything he cooks leads to Del and Rodney eating out as often as possible. After Grandad dies it turns out that Del is actually a fairly competent (if rather limited) cook, but let Grandad handle the Trotters' cooking just so that he wouldn't feel useless.
Cosplay (As well as the famous "Batman and Robin" scene in "Heroes and Villains, outside the show there are a number of grown men who have acquired Robin Reliants and been Del Boy for various purposes, usually charity-related.)
Criminal Doppelgänger: In a two-part special where Del and Rodney go to Miami, they discover a Mafia boss who looks identical to Del just who happens to be on trial at the time.
The Ditz: Trigger's stupidity is an extreme version of this trope.
The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: In "Sickness and Wealth," Del is worried that he might be suffering from a certain disease, and subsequent dialogue makes it obvious that he's talking about AIDS. The disease was still pretty taboo in 1989, hence why it isn't mentioned by name, but the episode shows quite a surprising degree of AIDS awareness, most notably the fact that it isn't — as was widely considered to be the case at the time — something that only gay men contract.
Earn Your Happy Ending: The Trotters started out from day one wishing to become millionares one day. They did - twice.
Happy Ending One was in Time On Our Hands (which was originally the series finale). Del and Rodney discover a 18th century watch in the garage and manage to auction it for £6,200,000. They proceeded to start new lifestyles with their friends and family, but ended up losing all the money in a Central American stock market crash.
Happy Ending Two was in Sleepless in Peckham. The Trotters have had a year to raise £48,754 to pay off the stock market crash. They do so, with £290,000 left over, thanks to Uncle Albert's will, and Rodney finally gets a child with Cassandra after a miscarriage previously.
Rodney Charlton Trotter. At his wedding, the audience can't stop laughing at it so it ends up being omitted from Cassandra's vows. Made all the more embarrassing by the fact that, despite Rodney's insistence that his middle name was inspired by Charlton Heston, it actually came about because his mother Joannie was a fan of Charlton Athletic F.C.
Boycie's middle name is revealed to be Aubrey, and he says that his father always used to call him by it. For some reason, in the spin off, it's treated as though it were his first name (although this is rather inconsistant).
Damien's middle name is Derek, making his initials DDT, the same as a well-known insecticide. Subverted, since Uncle Albert points out straight away the effect this would have on Damien's initials, but Del and Raquel don't care about it.
Del Boy: Well, there'll be no flies on him, then, will there?
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Del's idea for a film; "There is a Rhino Loose in the City". His explanation of the plot, unsurprisingly, makes no sense whatsoever.
In-universe example with Lennox Gilbey in the fifth season's third episode "The Longest Night", whose plan to rob the supermarket omits basic things such as a means of escape and turning up at the correct time.
Also done in-universe in "Video Nasty" with Del's film idea, "There's a Rhino Loose in the City", which makes no sense on any level.
Gay Bar Reveal: In the first season's second episode "Go West Young Man", complete with a Camp Gay barman and Del Boy propositioning two cross-dressers.
Genre Blind: Lennox has absolutely no clue whatsoever how to be an armed robber. Rodney in the same episode taking his cigarettes when he could have had the gun beside him is equally blind.
Genre Shift: Happened most notably with Rock and Chips (see below), but it did occasionally happen within the series itself.
The 1985 Christmas special "To Hull and Back" was treated more like a crime caper film than a sitcom
The series finale "Sleepless in Peckham," while still having plenty of comedic moments, had a far more serious atmosphere than most of the series.
Grail In The Garbage: The John Harrison Watch, the discovery of which made the protagonists millions in the third chapter of the 1996 Christmas trilogy "Time On Our Hands", was located... in the Trotters' garage.
Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Raquel, at least when she first meets the characters, and she returns to it after her first appearance. Once she moves in with Del properly, she never goes back.
Identical Grandson: Nicholas Lyndhurst plays Rodney's biological father Freddie "The Frog" Robdall in the 2010 prequel Rock and Chips.
Inflationary Dialogue: In "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Uncle", Uncle Albert's claims about how many people mugged him after he loses all his money playing dominoes.
Informed Attractiveness: In Rock and Chips, while Joannie is decent looking, the sheer amount of gushing she gets over her looks, from pretty much everybody, is somewhat disproportionate.
I Was Quite A Fashion Victim: Most people tend to look back on what they wore during the 80's with embarrassment. Mickey Pierce on the other hand, averts this by never changing his look at all... leaving his wardrobe stuck Two Decades Behind by the end of the series.
Jerk Ass: Del Boy during the 1986 Christmas special "A Royal Flush". See Canon Discontinuity above for what happened when the writer realised this. Boycie is this more generally, though obviously it's played for comedic value.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Del Boy is self-centred, boorish, uneducated, a social climber (and a totally incompetent one at that) and a petty criminal, but he does genuinely care for the people he loves and has been shown to be quite sensitive at times.
Jive Turkey: Denzil in his first appearance only, as it was immediately realised what a bad idea this was.
The same applies to the original version of "A Royal Flush," which is unavailable on any home video format (the VHS release had about a minute of footage removed, and the DVD release removed nearly ten minutes of footage and added a laugh track). However, the original cut still appears from time to time on the digital channels, so it's not too hard to find decent quality versions of it.
In a straight version, several mini-episodes such as Christmas Trees, Licensed To Drill and the Comic Relief Special have never been released on VHS or DVDs.
Kick the Dog: Slater in every other scene in which he appears, from petty crimes like sending his assistant on his break just as the police station canteen closes, to serious offences like blackmail and extortion.
Lampshade Hanging: With the aforementioned Fun with Acronyms, Rodney is quick to point out the acronym for Trotters' Independant Traders and also notices the "DDT" acronym. ("Del, thanks to your high profile, we now have a company called "TIT" and a director with "DIC" after his name.")
Laser-Guided Karma: Miranda in Yesterday Never Comes. She led Del on so he would give her a valuable painting in the Trotter's flat as a gift, that they didn't know the value of. When he finds out that she just wanted to sell it,, she smugly says it's been registered in her name, as having been in her family for years. Turns out Del knew full well how valuable the painting was; his grandmother stole it from an art dealer she worked for, and he's been trying to get shot of it for years. Now it's on Miranda's head.
Luke, I Am Your Father: In the 2003 Christmas special "Sleepless in Peckham", Rodney discovers through a photograph of the 1960 Jolly Boys Outing that his real biological father is not Reg Trotter, but rather gentleman thief Freddie "The Frog" Robdal.
Which was hinted at as early as the 1987 Christmas special "The Frog's Legacy".
My Friends... and Zoidberg: Del describes the seating plan for the meal with Raquel's parents as "Girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy and Uncle Albert."
My Name Is Not Durwood: Trigger always calls Rodney "Dave". The show had endless fun with what one might think would be a repetitive gag by coming up with variations such as:
Trigger: [Del might name his son] Rodney, after Dave over there.
Not Rare Over There: One episode uses this as the punchline to a Violin Scam: the boys raise a huge amount of money to buy a rare Hindu statue from one man, intending to sell it to another. Both men then disappear leaving them with the statue ... and then they find an identical statue in an Indian restaurant, and the manager tells them he got it for a couple of pounds at a Portobello Road stall filled with them.
Restaurant Manager: It's amazing the bargains you can find if you shop around.
Oh Crap: After Granddad learns Slater is in the police, his jaw drops for about thirty seconds. A couple of minutes later in the same episode, the whole family gets one when Slater arrests them, and Slater himself has one when Del's Batman Gambit pays off.
Only Sane Man: Varies depending on the episode in question. Prior to the seventh season it was usually Rodney, though occasionally Uncle Albert would step into the role. Starting with the 1990 Christmas special "Rodney Come Home" however, Raquel would invariably prove to be the only fully sane member of the Trotter family.
Oop North: For part of one episode, set in Hull in, whatisname:
Del Boy: Just get me back to Peckham or I'll be saying "Eh-up!" and breeding whippets before I'm much older!
Papa Wolf: Derek Trotter; a womanizing, chain smoking, gambling, borderline alcoholic who has at various points in his life bribed officials, sold both stolen and smuggled goods and is guilty of both tax and VAT fraud on a massive scale. But if you ever try and threaten his family - Del will be unhappy.
Parental Abandonment: The Trotters' mother Joan died when they were young, while their Jerk Ass father Reg abandoned them. They were not happy when he returned in "Thicker than Water". Del frequently speaks of his mother with great fondness.
Pocket Protector: Parodied. Grandad launches into the story about the cigarette case belonging to his grandfather, which deflected the bullet aimed at his heart, saving his life... at least, until it went up his nose and blew his brains out.
Grandad: I want you to have it. My grandmother always said it was lucky.
Rodney: Lucky? It went up his nose and blew his bloody brains out!
Real Life Writes the Plot: The deaths of the actors who played Grandad and Uncle Albert were followed by the deaths of the characters in the show.
Re Tool: Happened with the 1988 Christmas special, "Dates" — prior to that episode the series had focused almost exclusively on Del's get rich quick schemes, but in subsequent episodes the series would start to involve Del and Rodney's personal lives much more, aided by the episodes being doubled in length.
Running Gag: Albert's "During the war..." in the later series, especially the specials - in which any mention is automatically followed by groaning from everyone else in the vicinity. "Mum said to me on her death bed..." from Del is another gag from start to finish - to believe Del, Joannie spent her last three weeks doing nothing but saying anecdotes that Del could use through the rest of his life. It's unclear what she actually said at that time. Both are Lampshaded increasingly often as time goes on - causing the former to be subverted when Del threatens Albert with violence if he says it, so... "During the 1939-1945 conflict with Germany..." in "Time On Our Hands". Strangely enough, this moment by itself may qualify as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Albert, if only because he gets so few of them.
As for the latter, in "It's Only Rock and Roll", Rodney reminds Del about a row they had on whose turn it was to go and get the fish and chips, and Del claimed that Joannie said on her death bed, "Send Rodney for the fish."
Series Fauxnale: The December 1996 trilogy of Heroes and Villains, Modern Men, and Time On Our Hands were originally intended to be the Grand Finale for the show (the final episode pulling 24.1 million viewers), but another trilogy broadcast between 2001 and 2003 soon came.
Prequel: Rock and Chips (originally announced as Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Chips), which is set in 1960, and tells the story of Joan and Freddie the Frog. It's a bit of a Genre Shift, being a rather downbeat drama with some laughs rather than the traditional sitcom of the original (and The Green Green Grass).
Springtime for Hitler: In the 1985 Christmas special "To Hull and Back," the owner of a boat rental company agrees to let the Trotters hire one of his boats, thinking that they're certain to sink or otherwise badly damage it, which will result in a hefty insurance payout. The boat in question ends up being the only ship which Uncle Albert ever failed to sink — though the owner's scheme doesn't backfire on him, and he presumably still ends up with the rental fee that Del paid, plus the boat itself to foist off on some other unsuspecting fool.
Stalker with a Crush: In the 1993 Christmas special "Fatal Extraction", during a brief split from Raquel, Del sets up a date with Beverly, the receptionist of his local dentist, but calls it off after Rodney manages to talk him out of it. In the following days, Del sees Beverly wherever he goes, and starts to believe that she's stalking him. In a subversion, it turns out that their meetings were coincidental, and Beverly actually believes that Del is stalking her. She thought the date was a bad idea to begin with and didn't mind it being called off, but Del's threatening behaviour when he confronts her actually motivates Beverly into taking revenge by selling Raquel an answering machine which had Del's message about cancelling the date on it.
Story Arc: First done due to Real Life Writes the Plot in series 4, the first three episodes of which saw Grandad's death and Uncle Albert's introduction to the family. The show started doing full story arcs after the the Re Tool, with series 6 encompassing Rodney and Cassandra's relationship and marriage, series 7 featuring the troubles of the same relationship alongside Raquel's re-introduction and subsequent pregnancy, and the 1996 and 2001—2003 trilogies both containing their own Story Arcs.
Team Mom: Raquel by the later stages has become this.
Too Good For This Sinful Earth: Del considers his mother Joan as having been an example of this. Subverted big-time in Rock and Chips where it's revealed that Joan was nearly as devious as her son — if a bit more kind-hearted — and not only did she have an affair which resulted in her becoming pregnant and giving birth to Rodney, she used Rodney's birth to secure the family a better home in Nelson Mandela House.
Even before Rock and Chips, it was obvious just how oblivious Del was to what type of lady she was. Such as how Joannie was the first woman in Peckham to smoke menthol cigarettes, how she was often to be found in the corner of a pub with two geezers and of how she used to buy her school aged son alcohol in pubs.
Translation Trainwreck: An in-universe example of this occurred in the Christmas 2010 episode of Rock and Chips, "Five Gold Rings". Freddie Robdal told Joanie Trotter a French phrase roughly meaning "I am enjoying this food" while driving her home. Joanie then repeats this at the Trotters' dinner, and while it remains vaguely recognisable, she totally butchers the grammar and syntax of the phrase. The young Del Boy overhears this and thinks he'll impress his new girlfriend's parents by telling them the phrase, but mangles it even more and instead ends up telling them about how he enjoys a certain sexual position.
Two-Headed Coin: In one episode, Grandad gives Del Boy a two-headed coin, which he tries to use to win bets with Boycie. Unfortunately, because he tosses, Boycie gets to call and keeps calling heads. At the end, after Del's beaten Boycie at poker, he offers Boycie double or nothing on the coin, but because Boycie thinks the law of averages means he's bound to lose this time, Del suggests that instead Rodney could call it as Del's representative. He spins the coin...and Rodney calls tails.
Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Averted with Del Boy. He has many of the common traits of the typical UCP, including ambition that far exceeds his ability, criminal tendencies, substance abuse (of the cigarettes and alcohol variety), is a Jerk Ass and has a complete shopping list of personality flaws. However, his unflappable optimism, highly protective attitude to his friends and family and the occasional glimpse that under the surface he can actually be quite sensitive make him a very sympathetic character for all his failings.
Boycie plays this trope straight, he's sleazy and smug and there really isn't an awful lot to like about him. Also his moustache is stupid.
Walking Into The Sunset: The ending of "Time On Our Hands", which John Sullivan wanted to be the last-ever episode; the idea was that during this sequence, Del, Rodney and Albert would be replaced by cartoon versions of themselves.
Wealthy Ever After: Subverted, at the end, so Rodney could find out who his real father is, and become a father himself.
What Could Have Been: Jim Broadbent was John Sullivan's original choice for the role of Del Boy. While failing to get the role, he did still appear within the show as DCI Slater, who made three appearances - all highly memorable.
Also, the fifth season finale "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" was originally written to become the final OFAH episode with Del leaving England with his friend Jumbo Mills to run a car business in Australia, thus launching a planned spin-off series called Hot-Rod, which would've been all about Rodney running Trotters Independent Traders with Mickey Pearce.
In the first chapter of the early 2000s Christmas trilogy, "If They Could See Us Now" (2001), The BBC wanted to get the rights from ITV to use the actual Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? gameshow with a special guest appearance from Chris Tarrant, but ITV refused because a plot point was that Del gave a correct answer and the quizmaster said it was wrong due to an error. They ended up with a blatant expy called Goldrush, hosted by Jonathan Ross.
Vanilla Edition: The entire series is available on DVD, but with zero special features.